Saturday, November 24, 2012

Darn you Pinterest!

I love Pinterest.  I really do.  I love going on there and getting recipes, home decorating hints, and style ideas.  I, like most people who have a Pinterest account, have found myself losing an hour or two of my life as I click through various pins.

But I do have a few issues with Pinterest.  The first is when I find something that I absolutely adore.  Such as this:

And this:

And then I discover that I can't have them.

Oh how I coveted both of these when I saw them pinned on someone else's board.  I finally traced them back to their sources and discovered both were no longer available.  That is a bummer!

I now make sure that when I pin something, that I first trace it back to its original source.  I also try to include in my comments if it is no longer available.  My goal is to either make it easier for someone who wants to purchase it, to find it.  My second goal is to prevent someone the same disappointment I have experienced when I discover a pin is so old that the item is no longer for sale.

But yesterday, I found something even more frustrating.  I found a dress that is absolutely stunning.  Don't believe me?  See for yourself.
I traced this back to Cape Cod Collegiate on tumblr.  It took me almost an hour to scroll through all the posts and find this beauty only to be disappointed to discover it was lifted from a second tumblr.  After hours trying to scroll through that second tumblr, mango-moods, I finally cried "uncle".  In addition to be disappointed in not finding the dress, I am now obsessed with trying to figure out who in their right mind would bother with a tumblr blog.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to such a blog, and no organization.

But I digress from the dress.  Can anyone out there help me?  Have you ever seen this dress before and know the source?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Products I Love

I love Stella Thunderpaws.

Who wouldn't?  This dog is the bee's knees.

But the shedding, oh the shedding.  I have to vacuum every single day or else the hair is everywhere.  I have light maple wood floors and her black hair is very noticeable if I don't get it all up.  I brush her once a week and that has seemed to help.

I have a whole collection of dog brushes.

I started with this one:

And it worked okay.  But it seemed to scratch Stella's skin and she did not enjoy getting brushed.  And, as you can see from the photo, it is hard to get clean.

This contraption worked pretty well, but can take a lot of time.  First, you have to brush it backwards against the dog's hair and then go with the hair. To use it properly, you have to lean over the dog and it can strain your back.  Plus, Stella likes to try and steal it and run around the yard with it, hence the tooth marks in the handle.

This rake works really well.  Again, you first go against the dogs hair and then with the natural lay of the hair.  It takes out a bunch of hair, but, seems to trigger something in Stella. It must irritate her skin because after a bit, she starts going nuts and running around like someone snuck some meth in her food.

And here it is folks.  The clear winner!  I discovered this tool through a friend.  I was mentioning my incessant need to vacuum and get up all the hair.  She whipped this puppy out.  Its the ShedMaster, and I believe they should give it an even more awesome, Tim the Toolman-type name.  Such as, the ShedMaster 2000!

See those teeth?  Those teeth work magic.  They "grab" the dogs hair.  As you brush the dog you can feel the slight tug.  Yet, it doesn't hurt the dog; its not yanking the hair out of the dog's skin, but rather pulling the loose hair out of the other, attached hair.  Stella loves it.  She will lay in the yard and let me brush her.  She will even roll over and let me brush her belly.  Those teeth are rounded, so they don't scratch or irritate the dog's skin.

The hair self cleans itself out.  As you brush, it floats away in clumps.  I just rinse it off each time as Stella Thunderpaws often has pond dirt mixed in her hair.  She is a beautiful, but dirty dog.  She follows my boys everywhere and as such, she comes home as dirty as their muck boots.

I found the ShedMonster here.  It is also available on Amazon or at Walmart stores.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Required Reading

Finding time to read has gotten a bit harder lately.  My husband happens to be very good at his job, and as such, he is in high demand.  He has been requested by other offices to travel and do some work for them.  In today's economy that is a good thing.  It does make it a bit more hectic around the house though, and makes my day stretch out to about 10pm each day.  That leaves me about a half an hour to either read, check emails/Facebook, catch some Law and Order, or write a blog post.  Its why I haven't posted much lately; I've tended to go with emails and Facebook.  And a little bit of reading.

First, I read this.  It was okay.  Just okay.  Typical James Patterson.  It was good while I was reading it, but when trying to recall details for this post, I couldn't.  I actually couldn't even remember the name.

Now, I have moved on to the latest Patricia Cornwell book:

Its horrible.  HORRIBLE!  I loved the first 8 to 10 Kay Scarpetta books.  They were well written, interesting, and entertaining.  I looked forward to each new book in the series.  Then, something happened.  I came across some interviews with Patricia Cornwell while googling for an image of this book cover.  The lady is crazy.  And it shows in her writing.  I commented at Goodreads that I suspected she had a series case of depression.  Now, after reading the interviews and news reports, I am armchair diagnosing depression wrapped up in a whole lot of crazy.  I suspect I won't even finish this one, and that I will stop reading her books all together.  I am about 100 pages in and I don't even think Kay Scarpetta has gotten to the dead body yet.  Instead, I've been reminded how smart, rich, paranoid and unhappy Lucy is, just in case I missed any of that in the past 20 books.  I've also been reminded how odd Scarpetta and Benton's relationship is, just in case I forgot.  Trust me, I've tried to forget the whole "Benton is dead, no he isn't" plot line that took place a few books ago.  And Marino is still angry.   And drinking.  Shocker.

Jeez Louise.  I think I just finally convinced myself it is okay to just return this unfinished to the library.

That will leave me time for this:

I've been looking forward to this and have even read a bit of it, and I think it is going to be good.  I have read another book by this author, and really liked it.  A teenage boy goes missing more than a decade ago.  Someone is now returning him to his family one bone at a time.  Intrigued?  I know I am.

I have some doctor appointments coming up and will be spending time in the waiting rooms and can use some reading suggestions.  So, what are you reading?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

I took two weeks off from my WIWW post.  Most of the people who read my posts are from my hometown, and they got hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.  It seemed a bit shallow to be posting about clothing choices when so many of them had their homes damaged and were dealing with no power for 2 weeks.

Good news; the town is back on the grid, kids are almost all back to school, and things are getting back to normal. So I am going to link up with Lindsey's WIWW over at The Pleated Poppy .

I spent a good amount of time in my pajamas this weekend.  I know that the purpose of WIWW is to inspire moms to get out of the pajamas and out of the yoga pants.  However, it was just one of those weekends.  I was burnt and needed to bum around.  I love these Charter Club fleece pajamas. They were a gift from my very good friend when I had my eye removed.  I wore them from the day I came home from the hospital until I was allowed to shower.

 Top: Chaps by Kohl's
Cords: Bass 
Shoes: Talbots

I thought I looked better in this outfit.  Someone's been eating too many bites of Ritter Chocolate with Hazelnuts - and its going to her thighs!

I loved the neck and ruffle along the midline on this shirt from Kohl's.  I nabbed this shirt last year from their clearance rack for $5.

I like the ruffle at the bottom of the sleeve as well.

 Jeans: Chaps by Kohl's
Boots: Fat Baby
Vest: Land's End
Top: The Loft

Dress: The Gap
Boots: Frye "Campus"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Bomb Diggity of Waffles!

I am a rock star in the eyes of my kids right now.  Because I didn't just make them waffles for breakfast, I made them the most awesome, bomb diggity waffles EVER!  Thank you Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for the idea.

So how can you make the best waffles ever? And this of course is assuming that like me, when you use the term "best" you are talking about taste, and not healthy.  For a healthy recipe check out this one at The Petite Athleat.  But for my mouth died and went to heaven waffles, just do this:

Get out your waffle maker, your non stick spray (I'm a sucker for Baker's Joy) and a roll of cinnamon rolls.  Oh, and Detective Eames!  I'm a Law and Order junkie.  Wasn't Detective Eames incredible on her recent guest spot on L&O: SVU?  I about died when she tilted her head like Goren use to do while questioning the terrorist.  Love me some Benson and Stabler, but I miss Lenny Briscoe and Bobby Goren.  Sad face.

Warm up the waffle maker and then slap two of those bad boy cinnamon rolls on there.  Close her up and let her work her magic!

Viola!  Cinnamon roll waffles.  My kids ate them too fast to take a picture of them with the icing and local maple syrup on top.  They have already asked for them for tomorrow too.  Amazingly, they were easier to make than to put the roll of cinnamon rolls in the oven and baking them traditionally.  I find that if I forget to set the timer, I forget about them while trying to multitask and then the bottoms get too toasty.

Adding to the ease is the clean up.  I have never mastered the art of putting the right amount of batter on the waffle maker.  I either don't put enough or put too much - and that is a mess!  Because my waffle maker is electric, I can't submerge it and clean it.  So cleaning off all the spill over can be time consuming.  As you can see, these don't over flow.  I was able to quickly and easily wipe off the surface of the waffle maker.  Its the little things that make a difference in my life!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Prepared Kid is a Safe Kid

I got a terrifying call the other night.

After months of discussions, my husband and I had decided that it was okay to leave my almost 13 year old son home alone with our almost 8 year old for short periods of time.  My husband was hard to convince, he is a pessimist and trusts no one.  I on the other hand, remembered babysitting a 6 month old and a 3 year old when I was 13.  I thought we were being overly protective and sheltering.  So my opinion won.

As such, my boys have been staying home while I bring my daughter to her local soccer games.  And that's where I was the other night when I got the phone call.  It was almost half time when I felt my phone vibrate.  When I saw it was from my house, I expected I was about to have to referee a disagreement over how much time each was allowed to use the Playstation.  Instead, I got this:

"Hi mom."

"Hi buddy, what's up?"

"Well, a man pulled into the driveway in a van, and I thought it was the FedEx guy.  And then he used a flashlight and went up into the woods on the side of the house.  So I thought he was peeing.  But, now he's trying to get inside the house." (accompanied with very loud barking and growling from the dog)


"Yeah, he was on the porch trying to open the door."

Thankfully, my daughter plays soccer with some incredible girls with incredible parents so I left her in their care and made the fastest drive ever home.  I called my husband to ask if he had headed home from work yet, hoping he was closer.  He wasn't.  I called my boys back and they reported that once the dog started barking and growling, the man stopped trying the door and left the porch.  He apparently went into the shed/play house in the front yard and then drove out of the driveway.

I got home shaking to find two very calm boys.  I called my husband to report that everything was okay and he should stay at work.

I couldn't figure out how my boys were so calm in the face of what just happened.  I know I wasn't!  But now, after a few days and talking to them a bit, I think I know why.  They were prepared.

For many people, crime is a statistic, or something they read about in the paper.  Its scary, but, it tends to be something we think of happening away, or to other people.  When I was growing up, in a particularly wonderful place, something happened that changed me.  Two young girls were lured from their yard, assaulted and murdered.  This particular crime has stayed with me and greatly affected how I parent.  In addition, I also spent a good amount of time working as a tutor for a young girl.  Her mother worked for the district attorney's office as an investigator for crimes committed against children.  Due to confidentiality, she of course could not share anything about her specific cases, except to tell me that she wished more parents were less embarrassed to teach their children the proper names of their body parts and talk in general with their children about how their bodies functioned.  I have made sure to include her advice in my parenting style.

My husband and I have been very open with our kids, being clear that while it is our job to keep them safe, that they need to be aware.  Another parent questioned me once and asked if I didn't fear giving my kids nightmares.  I don't.  I think my husband and I have found a good balance of sharing information with our kids at appropriate times and also always making sure that they are aware that B and I will always view keeping them safe as our priority.

How does leaving them alone, ever, fit into this you may ask.  At some point, when he was still pretty young, I discovered that my oldest was afraid.  Of everyone.  And I realized I had done that.  And while some may think that being afraid would keep him safe as he would be less likely to trust a stranger, it actually would make him more likely to become a victim.  He oozed fear, the scent every predator recognizes, be it pedophile, thief or bully.

So I tempered my message and provided lots of opportunity to gain confidence.  And it obviously worked given his ability to stay calm in the face of actual danger.

After all these years, I have often toyed with the idea of creating a series of presentations that I could market to school systems, things I think kids should know to keep them safe.  I'm not quite organized enough to do it, but hope that perhaps this post goes viral and enough parents read it and share the information with their children.

1.  Teach your kids the right names for their body parts.  Don't let embarrassment stop you from using the words penis and vagina.  I realize some purists will be aghast at the thought of using the term vagina, as that is actually the part of the genitalia that is INSIDE us, but here in America the term is used so often for the outside, that is has become the de facto name.  I was told by my student's mother that if a child is ever assaulted, a defense attorney can destroy a child's testimony if they use euphemisms for body parts.

2.  Be clear on what bad people may do.  Children should know that there are people out there who like to touch children and like to make children touch them.  Don't scare your child with an all encompassing "bad people".  Your child's imagination can take over.  They do better with specifics.

3.  Do not teach your child to not let someone touch them.  Many children allow abuse to continue because they think they were bad to allow it to happen.  Instead, teach your child that no one should touch them, but that bad people can be tricky.  And bad people are liars.  A bad person can trick a kid into being touched and then will lie to try to prevent the child from telling.  Teach your child that the most important thing is to tell you if anyone touches them.  Teach them that if the bad person says they are going to hurt them, or hurt a sibling, or hurt one of the parents if the child tells, that it is a lie to prevent getting in trouble.

3.5 As parents we need to realize that for every minute we spend thinking of how to keep our kids safe, there is a pedophile out there spending 10 minutes (or more) thinking how to lure or trick a child.  We will never be able to think of and warn our children of each lure and trick.  Instead, we should concentrate on raising confident kids, who are less likely to be victims and ensure out kids know they can tell us anything.  Also, recognize that parents are groomed by pedophiles, as much as children are!  Some great work has been done by Warriors for Innocence and here is a great article by them on how children and parents are groomed to be victims.  Google "pedophiles groom parents" and a plethora of information will pop up.  Pay close attention to the links to FBI research.

4. If you feel comfortable, teach your child that God (or mother nature) made certain parts of the body feel good when they are touched.  Pedophiles will often use a child's own body response to keep them quiet.  "You liked it, you must be bad."

5. Notice I am saying bad people and have avoided the word grown ups.  I don't think we do enough to recognize that people don't suddenly become abusers at the age of 18.  This may be too scary of a concept to teach to young children, but adults need to always consider it.  Juveniles account for one quarter of sexual offenses in the US!

6.  Have a plan. We live in a state that has a lot of home invasions, thanks in part to a huge problem with prescription drug abuse. We keep our doors locked all the time.  I am actually more likely to leave my door unlocked when we are NOT home.  If we are home and all in the house, every door is locked.  If we are home and in the back yard, all the front doors are locked.  If someone were to get in and we were home, we have a plan that we developed while taking our concealed weapons course.  We found the room in the house that gives us the most options for escape as well as hunkering down.  Our plan is to get everyone in that room.

7. Always remind your kids that it is your job to keep them safe, and you take that job seriously.  Remind your kids that it is highly unlikely anything will happen and that you are simply preparing them.  I often tell my kids that a safe kid is a prepared kid.  Do not over teach any of the above, or do it all at once.  Spread it out and look for teachable moments.

After much consideration, I left my boys alone again last night when I had to take my daughter to a banquet and my husband had to leave for an overnight business trip.  I did make sure my neighbor was home and asked her to keep an eye out.  We discussed what should be done differently if there ever was a "next time" including that fact that FedEx guys do not pee in people's yards!  My husband agreed that he underestimated our oldest son's ability to handle a crisis, and we are both so proud of how calm he remained during and after.  We also both agreed that Stella Thunderpaws was worth every single cent we spent on her and every moment of house training.